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Humans of ADJ: Chris O’Riley

In honor of the famous photo essay project, Humans of New York, we’re tipping our hat and featuring Humans of ADJ (Austin Digital Jobs) to showcase how different yet similar we all are on this boat.

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The Austin Digital Jobs group (ADJ) celebrates the tremendous talent where we’re headquartered and boasts nearly 50,000 members – we’re devoted to retaining talent in Austin and attracting new brands, and letting our hair down while we do it.

To help us see what we have in common while simultaneously showcasing our diversity, we’re bringing “Humans of ADJ” to you as a nod to the famous photo essay project, “Humans of New York.”

The goal is to learn more about each other as humans.

We want to showcase things less obvious about ourselves – a game developer who plays professional rugby, a digital marketing strategist who has lived in 12 countries, a UX pro who served 23 years in the Navy, a technical writer who is currently fostering 12 animals and bottle feeding 5… you get the idea.

We are more than our job titles. Every single one of us. We sincerely seek to demonstrate the uniqueness of folks in this town in hopes that we can connect with each other more meaningfully.

Our first feature is Chris O’Riley – he’s a brand new father, he navigated a challenging childhood, and his take on humanity is kind and sincere. The following answers are in his words:

Q: Do you have a mantra?

A: In a moment where I’m happy, or given the chance to truly help someone, I remember to tell myself that every terrible moment in my life has gotten me to this exact moment, right here, right now.

I’ve had some unique experiences that I’ve been able to share with others as a way to relate, and prove that it DOES GET BETTER. Being able to say “Sure, that all happened, but I’m happy now” is really encouraging.

Q: Someone says you have to teach a seminar in 5 minutes – with no prep time, what topic do you choose and why?

A: Life is change, and change is scary, and often happens for unfortunate reasons. It can wreck someone’s life if they can’t accept it, roll with it, or recover from it.

I would choose this topic because I’m intimately familiar with it due to my childhood and growing up, and ever since I learned that I am NOT a byproduct of the things that have happened to me, but rather, how I dealt with them, I’ve been happier and more successful that I thought possible.

Q: Who most shaped you professionally? Personally? Tell us a bit about either/or.

A: I didn’t grow up with a very steady family situation, with landing in an orphanage at 7, and having a couple of foster families until I emancipated myself at 17.

Having people treat me like family taught me compassion, the value of helping other people, and helped my believe that I was worthwhile.

Q: What experience has most defined your life?

A: Definitely the orphaning. I highly doubt I’d have survived this long had I stayed in that situation, and surviving the various hardships that came from it helps keep me grounded, and from taking things for granted as easily.

Q: What does “The American Dream” mean to you?

A: I feel like the American Dream has shifted in my generation. Before, it was a house, 2 cars, 2 and a half kids, and a retirement plan.

Now, it’s having a safe world to raise a kid in if you choose to raise one, and otherwise, finding some way to be happy despite the state of America. I guess you can say that I dream of a different America. A kinder, more accepting, less ruthless and “us vs. them” oriented America.

Q: What do you believe we all have in common as humans?

A: We’re all sentient shambling meatbags with wants, needs, fears, hopes, and dreams. Every last one of us. I believe we’re all capable of kindness and cruelty, but we’re more likely to share the one that we receive more of. 

I also believe all of us can do better by encouraging one another to do so, by example. I’m not saying we will, but we CAN.”

Q: Dream job?

A: A dream job for me would be not just something to make money and do something I enjoy, but to pass on the kind of things that helped me get to where I am.

I believe that everything that’s happened to me and how I dealt with those things put me where I am today, so the logical next step is to share that with people who might be going through what I did once upon a time.

Thank you for your realness, Chris, we appreciate you and feel less alone in our quirky lives! For anyone who wants to be considered as a featured Human of ADJ, click here for info (and please note, there’s a very very long wait list, but we’re getting systems in place to feature folks more frequently!).

Kelly is a freelance photographer, videographer, self diagnosed animalholic, and has been a dance and fitness instructor in Austin for over 33 years. She is currently an instructor for “Aging is Cool” and several private dance studios in the Austin area. Her work has been featured on KVUE, dancemagazine.com & dance retailer news.

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ADJ

ADJ AMA: Ask the Recruiter Anything [replay]

If you missed the live session last week, the ADJ AMA was bonkers – we learned so much and our guest debunked a LOT of “common knowledge!”

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If you weren’t able to make the live event, there’s good news – we recorded it for you!

Michele Olivier is a partner at O&H Consulting which offers recruiting and career coaching services. She’s a vetted badass and blew my mind in so many ways during the hour and a half we spent together.

Apparently a lot of what I’ve been told is wrong, which means a lot of what you have been told is also wrong!

We chat about the application robots, recruiters, how it all works, and how it has all changed. Get up to speed by listening to the AMA (Ask Me Anything), but beware – there are curse words, so maybe listen with headsphones on!

Pro tip: Michele’s bio and social media links are all listed below the video!

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Michele Olivier offers a unique perspective on career development and job searching, with an impressive record of accomplishment on both sides of the desk. She combines over 20 years of experience in HR and recruitment with certifications in career guidance and counseling, and she knows how to meet the needs of both applicants and organizations when it comes to matching talented people with top jobs. As a regular contributor to trusted sources for industry knowledge including the New York Times, Recruitment.com, and Refinery29 Michele is a dynamic thought leader and instrument of change in the Talent Acquisition field.

With global expertise and a list of clients including Big 4, Big Tech, and F50 companies, Michele has recruited at all levels from entry retail through executive. Not only has she filled roles for household names like Microsoft, EA Games, Facebook, and the YMCA, she has worked individually with established professionals to land positions at places from Goldman Sachs to the American Red Cross.

The scope of Michele’s experience spans multiple industries, every career level, and organizations of all sizes. Through this, she has honed a no-nonsense approach when it comes to communicating with clients about the realities of the job market and how to stay competitive. She has even developed and implemented curricula to help both job seekers find work and employers identify talent, which was rolled out internationally and recognized by the British Parliament for excellence. As Principal Consultant with O&H Consulting, Michele and her colleagues channel their expertise into customized resume and career coaching support that helps clients soar above the crowd.

Find Michele online:

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ADJ

Coming up – an AMA all about making a career change!

ADJ is hosting an AMA for anyone thinking about making a career change, especially into the technology sector!

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We get questions alllll the time about how to make a career change. Folks are worried they’re too young, they’re too old, they’re too experienced, too inexperienced.

They’re worried they can’t transition from the military to civilian life, from being a teacher to tech, from owning a business to working for someone else again.

Others have questions about moving from individual contributor to manager, and others want to know how to break through to the next level.

Bring your questions and join us on August 31st at 7:00pm cst (snacks, drinks, and pets are welcomed)!

Register now to snag the Zoom link!

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ADJ

Rooftop Slushie sells employee referrals (aka bribes), and we hate it

At last, the sharing economy is addressing the issue of nepotistic hiring practices in tech… by making it worse. And adding a bit of immorality. We suspect that Rooftop Slushie is a fast way for you to land in hot water.

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Introducing Rooftop Slushie, a website that emerged last year and has gained popularity in the absence of face-to-face networking events brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company sells recommendations on behalf of those seeking jobs at major tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft. As of now, Rooftop Slushie proudly claims on their website to have referred over 13,000 candidates.

Here’s how it works: users pay between $20-$50 to upload resumes and indicate their desired position. Anonymous tech employees evaluate them, then decide whether or not to refer candidates based on their listed credentials. They also offer resume reviews and career advice.

It is a recent venture from the enigmatic creators of Blind, an anonymous online forum of vaguely described “verified professionals.” (How someone can be both verified and anonymous is beyond me, but I digress.)

While Rooftop Slushie asks their employee network to only recommend candidates who are genuinely qualified for their desired positions, the site has no apparent measures to ensure that this happens, other than there being no guarantee that any given applicant will succeed.

It is true that Rooftop is providing a unique service. Nobody else is doing what they do, because what they do is wrong. It would be questionable even if there was no money exchanged. As it is, this is akin to bribery.

The keyholders of these prestigious tech job references are taking advantage of their status within large companies for profit, as well as any additional incentives to refer candidates that their employer may offer. It’s friggin’ corrupt, plain and simple.

Now, I’d like to address those who would consider using this service to land their dream job.

I understand that impulse, especially in this economically desperate moment. But ethics aside, think about the personal consequences you could face.

What if word gets out that you bought your way into your coveted new position?

You and your reference would probably be canned immediately. You could lose trust with your friends and associates, business or otherwise, who hear the news as well.

This is not a hypothetical question. Amazon has already started cracking down on paid referrals, and others are sure to follow suit. Good luck explaining that at your next interview.

It is also incredibly unfair to those of us who can’t gamble 50 bucks to get a foot in the door with Google.

We have to do it the old fashioned way (like some kind of peasant, I suppose). And look, the ”old fashioned way” is obviously flawed. There is a LOT to criticize about preferential and biased hiring practices in the tech industry. This attempt to solve it is still very misguided.

Blind claims to be a “platform for change,” and suggests that Rooftop opens up opportunities to people who don’t have insider connections, thus (supposedly) leveling the playing field.

But cheating only worsens the problems they describe. The hiring process should not be pay-to-win. Jobs aren’t commodities.

Whether or not the act of selling professional recommendations breaks an employee’s contract, it’s certainly a gross violation of the social contract.

If you believe you’re qualified for a particular position, but the company won’t give you the time of day, don’t cheat. Be persistent. Or, better yet, why not seek out an employer who recognizes your talents?

And if you can’t manage to do that… maybe it’s time to reevaluate your actual level of expertise.

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